Company director prosecuted after ignoring safety warnings

The director of a London masonry company has been handed a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of exposing workers to harmful stone dust and ignoring notices to improve extraction ventilation.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found that employees at Redmist International Ltd were placed at unnecessary risk of inhaling dust between January and June 2013.

The company and its director Ghausal Islam, 52, were sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years.

After the hearing at Southwark Crown Court, HSE inspector Saif Deen said: “Stone dust can be incredibly harmful and exposure, even over a relatively short period, can have devastating consequences.

“It is therefore vital that companies involved in processes that generate airborne dust have effective systems in place to extract harmful particles, and provide adequate personal protective equipment for their employees.”

Investigation uncovered serious safety concerns

Southwark Crown Court heard that regular polishing and grinding work meant stone dust was commonplace at Redmist.

If inhaled, stone dust can cause:

  • Occupational asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
  • Silicosis
  • Or even lung cancer

As such, the court was told it was vital that adequate measures were in place to limit exposure.

The HSE’s inspection on 24th January 2013, however, found that an extraction ventilation system in the factory was inadequate and hadn’t been properly tested to ensure it was fit for purpose.

Two Improvement Notices were subsequently served requiring urgent changes, but follow-up visits on June 5th and 13th confirmed that no changes had been made, leaving employees facing potentially harmful exposure.

HSE inspector Saif Deen commented: “The company, under the lead of Ghausul Islam, displayed a poor performance over the period of our investigation. The clear concerns we identified were blatantly ignored and HSE will not hesitate to prosecute when worker safety is compromised in this way.”

The director, of Staverton Road, NW2, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs for breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Redmist International Ltd, of Standard Road, Park Royal, escaped penalty for separate breaches of the same legislation because it is no longer trading and is the subject of a winding up order.

Had it the means to pay, the judge ruled that a £50,000 fine would have been imposed to reflect the seriousness of the failings.

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